Quatervois: A Crossroads

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As I sit on a balcony in the Back Bay Area of Boston, I can’t help but contemplate: how did I get here?  This wasn’t part of the plan.  More importantly, where am I going to go from here?

Maybe I should back up.  What was the plan?  The plan was, I was going to move to California.  When this didn’t work out, I spent two months in Texas living with an old college roommate who has grown to be one of the best friends I will ever have.  A true soul sister.  Yet as the weeks went on in Texas and I explored career possibilities with the idea that I might stay in Texas permanently, nothing was materializing or even offering encouragement.  Meanwhile, Katie’s due date on baby Reagan was quickly approaching and I knew that our special summer of connection, friendship, and deep conversations would be coming to an end.  It would be a sad ending, but a necessary one because life would be pretty boring if you just keep re-reading the same chapter over and over again.

When baby Reagan decided to make her appearance in the world a month earlier than she was anticipated, I knew it was time for me to move on as to allow for Katie, Evan, and Reagan the opportunity to settle into their New Normal while I looked for mine.

I decided to come to Boston and stay with some family.  I love the city and I’m excited to explore it and see what lessons it holds for me.

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Ironically, after two months without any encouragement on job possibilities, I now have a virtual buffet of choices in front of me.  I’m currently entertaining options in Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Virginia.  There are so many questions looping through my mind right now.  Do I stay in my same career path?  Do I try something different?  Do I want to go back to something structured and 9-5?  Do I choose something with more freedom?  Do I start my business?  Where do I want to be?  What do I want my life to be about?

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It’s a wonderful thing to have so many choices, but it is so terrifying at the same time.

Every day we make choices.  These are choices that contribute to who we are going to be and how our lives are going to turn out.  Sometimes these are small choices.  Sometimes they are big.  They are all important.

The world feels like my oyster right now and in the next few weeks, I’m going to be making some big choices.  I’m trying very hard to shut out the noise of others’ judgements and expectations and make these choices based on what I know is the truest and most self-honoring for myself.

Then, I’ll take a leap and let the pieces fall as they may.

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I’ll let you know how it turns out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intuition versus Cognition

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Think about it.  Why don’t we ever say “feel about it?”

Our cognitive abilities are amazing.  After all, it is what sets us apart from the animals.  Yet, why are we so dismissive of our intuitions?

You know what intuitions are.  For us girls, many times it is when you are walking down a dark street alone at night and you get that prickly feeling on the back of your neck.  Your brain seems to be saying, “Danger!  Danger!  We need to get out of this situation!”  Intuition can also be less serious: I feel like wearing this dress today instead of the pantsuit.  I feel like taking this route to work instead of this one even though Google Maps says there is more traffic.  I feel like I am supposed to go into this Starbucks right now.  When these feelings arise, do you listen to them or do you poo-poo them?

I think as a culture we have been conditioned to ignore a lot of our intuitions in favor of cognitions.  The brain says, “It doesn’t make a difference if you wear a dress or a pantsuit.”  “Take the other route to work to work, you’ll add five minutes with the traffic this way.”  “Don’t go into Starbucks, you’ve already had two cups of coffee today and you should save yourself the $3.”

What if the president of your company notices you in the elevator because your dress is more noticeable and stylish?  A quick compliment could turn into a conversation which turns into a lunch invitation which six months later turns into a promotion with a major salary increase.

What if, by taking the more congested route to work, you avoided a six car pile up that could have totaled your car?

What if you met the love of your life standing in that Starbucks line waiting for a third cup of coffee that day?

Obviously we can’t spend our whole life “what if-ing” but we also don’t need to shame ourselves for making decisions based on a gut instinct rather than rationale.  There is a time and a place for both.  Maybe what sets us apart form the animals is our ability to differentiate between when to use intuition versus when to use cognition.

I hope you are taking time to hone both.

 

Miracle Morning

Journey of #35by35 is off to a great start!  I feel amazing and can already feel a difference with the way my clothing fits.  I know that part of this is starting my morning off right.  I made a video talking about my morning routine which you can watch here:

Watch that for the details, but the summary is:

10 minutes of journaling

10 minutes of prayer

10 minutes of meditation

10 minutes of visualization

30 minutes of exercise

Grab your breakfast and go!  Thanks for reading and hope you have a miraculous morning!

Heavy

Life is heavy, y’all.  Sometimes this means that we eat the stresses around us and the boredom and the insecurities.  As a result, we are now weighing ourselves down with all of these burdens that don’t even necessarily belong to us.

I’ve been overweight more than half of my life.  I was a fairly healthy kid, but around the time I was 15 I started just eating and eating and eating and I never stopped.  Here’s a picture of what I looked like when I was 17 when genetics and metabolism are most on your side:

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I don’t know how much I weighed at this time because I couldn’t force myself to step on a scale and embrace the reality of what I had become, but I’d guess I was well over 200 pounds which is a lot for my 5’4″ stature.  This was the biggest I have ever been.

A few months after this photo was taken, I started college and experienced the opposite of the Freshman 15.  While I didn’t drop all of the weight, I was probably down about 15 pounds because I was spending most of my days in classes.  When I was in high school, I would come from school, turn on General Hospital to see what Lucky and Liz were up to, and set myself up with a buffet of snacks that could sometimes last me through until dinner.

In college I got a bit better, but I will admit that I would take a Nalgene bottle to the school cafeteria and fill it up with Dr. Pepper from the soda machine.  Just so we are clear on this, that means that MORE THAN ONCE A DAY I was consuming 400 calories and 120 grams of sugar from a beverage.

I would try to lose weight or exercise, but a lack of motivation, confidence, feeling of self-worth, and knowledge prohibited me.  I felt like I was constantly on a diet but never losing weight.

My weight stayed the same until I was about 25.  During this time I started eating a vegetarian diet and also contracted a case of mono.  I dropped 35 pounds in about three weeks.  This was the thinnest I have been since I was 15 and (once I had recovered from the mono) I looked and felt pretty good.  Those size 8 jeans were feeling great!

Unfortunately, in the years since, it all slowly crept back about 5 pounds a year until I’m right back to wear I was pre-mono.  I tried going vegetarian, vegan, eating whole30, and even hired a personal trainer and was working out 5 days a week.  I’d have little bursts of success, but never achieving my weight loss goals or making permanent changes.

So, why is this the case?  Sometimes I ate because I was bored.  Sometimes I ate because I was stressed.  Sometimes I ate because I was sad.  Sometimes I ate because I was happy.  Sometimes I ate because I was lonely.  Sometimes I ate because I was surrounded by other people who were eating.  Whatever I was doing it wasn’t working.

I got a big wake up call in November of 2014.  I started having terrible stomach problems.  I ended up in the ER three times and was eventually diagnosed through my gastroentrologist with lymphatic colitis.  I also have a helping of IBS, anemia, and a few other treats that make life a little more interesting.

I was so tired of looking and feeling terrible.  In October of 2016, I decided I was ready for a change.  I decided that I was ready to put my health first and start making some smart decisions.  I got started on a nutritional system that combines shakes and cleanse days to drop body fat.  The results were amazing, I dropped a couple of pant sizes and felt SO much better.  My energy levels changed so that I didn’t feel like I needed a nap at 3 in the afternoon.  My sleep improved after years of struggling with insomnia.

I wish I could say that I had this magnificent transformation, which is true as far as the way I was feeling but I didn’t have the weight loss I was aiming for because I let myself get side tracked when my life went crazy with job and life stuff.  I wasn’t binge eating, but I wasn’t making the best choices and indulging way too often.

Recently, I was looking at the calendar and realizing that my 35th birthday is only about six weeks away.  An idea sparked in my mind.  What if I could lose 35 pounds by my 35th birthday?  Now, I don’t want to get too attached to numbers especially since weight might stay the same while fat is traded out for muscle.  Yet, something about the idea of 35 by 35 really stuck out in my mind.  The numbers might be a bit arbitrary, but I’m running with them keeping in mind that I will be the healthiest I’ve ever been through my nutritional system and that if the number on the scale doesn’t say I’ve lost 35 but my pant size drops considerably then that’ll will be just fine!  I’m challenging myself now to lose #35by35.

I even made a video where I talk about it!

I also want reach out to anyone who is reading this that feels like they are stuck in a body that isn’t at its best whether that is too much weight or just a little bit extra weight or you just feel like crap.  The best decision I ever made was to put down the sugar and the salt and the soda and make myself a priority.  I’ve learned so much through this journey, both in learning how to be a self-coach but also in the coaching I have received.  I would love for you to be on this journey with me.  If you want to join my #35by35 movement and either shed some weight or achieve some health goals, please send me a message or an email (lauraarrington@100potential.com) I would love for us to be accountability partners and let me help coach you through your own transition.  Everyone reading this is such a beautiful, magnificent human that was put on this Earth for a reason and if we are hiding our shine with poor nutrition, we aren’t achieving our 100% potential that I dedicated this whole blog to.  It doesn’t matter how you know me, if you know me, if you want to talk about your health goals and get on this path to transformation with me, take the step and reach out.  I want to hear from you.

To sum up, here we are today.  It is July 20, 2017.  I look like this:

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The next six weeks are going to be a period of magnificent transformation.  I’m going to document the whole journey so please watch, enjoy, laugh, smile, and hold me accountable.  Also, if you want to have a transformation too, you are welcome to join me because I’m going to be creating a support group for this.

Are you ready?

Neither am I.  Let’s start anyway.

Microwave Society

e62711a1-7ff2-4487-bc99-5cb0711956b8_1000I was listening to a podcast recently where the person being interviewed referred to our culture as a “microwave society.”  Such an amazing image this brings up that captures exactly what is both right and wrong with us!  (I say us because I know I am currently part of the problem, not part of the solution.  As an “old” millennial, I especially hold my generation responsible for this).

I love microwaves.  They serve a purpose.

They also teach us that we can get anything we want, basically as fast as we want, as long as we are willing to compromise on the quality.

What does this teach us to value?  Results that are high quality or expedient?  In certain situations, there is nothing wrong with expediency.  In many situations, there is, especially since the most valuable things we have in life are the ones that tend to take the longest to cultivate or manifest.  Then we also value them more because they taught us patience, restraint, and tenacity.

What do you think?  Are you “microwaving” your life expecting to get what you want now?  Why don’t you want to wait?  How can we all learn to wait just a little bit better?

Falling Again and Again

I rented a movie the other night called Before I Fall.  Apparently it is based on a book, but I hadn’t heard of either but the description sounded interesting so I decided to rent it.  The story is a pretty simple Groundhog Day-style plot, although the movie was a drama, not a comedy.  In the movie, the main character is a teenage girl and we see her repeat the same day over and over again as she participates in bullying an outcast, ignoring the nice guy who has a crush on her, and getting into other various high school troubles.  Although it is hard to figure out where the movie is going, the ending is also pretty evidently going to be once she figures out whatever lesson she is supposed to learn then she will get herself out of the loop.

At one point during the repeated day, the character is sitting in a class learning about Sisyphus.  If you don’t remember your Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra who was doomed by Zeus to spend his time in the Underworld pushing a boulder up a hill for all eternity because of his deceitfulness.  Spending all time trapped in a useless effort full of unending frustration.

The movie made me think of a few things.  Obviously, in real life we don’t repeat the same day over and over again until we learn the lesson, or at least we don’t in such a clear cut way as the movies would demonstrate.  But I do think we can find ourselves in repeating patterns until we learn whatever lesson we aren’t supposed from the situation.  Have you ever found yourself dating the same person over and over again even when you are actually dating different people?  For some reason, you keep attracting the same type of person with the same issues into your romantic life until you learn the lesson.  This can be true not just for romantic relationships, but friendships, work, lifestyle, habits, etc.

Here’s where I think the choice comes in.  We can chose to pause and reflect when something isn’t working out the way we want it, especially if it doesn’t feel like we are living our best lives or we can be like Sisyphus, pushing the same boulder uphill for the rest of our lives.  Personally, I’d rather learn the lesson and get myself out of the loop of the repeating day.  Of course, this can be a challenge too because, even if the pattern feels bad, at least it feels familiar.  Choosing to make positive changes and get into unfamiliar and uncharted territory can feel very scary at first, but I think that’s when it is time to lean in and push forward.  Even if it might feel like you are pushing a boulder up a hill sometimes, the truth is if you learn from it, I bet the view from the top of that hill is beautiful and the boulder will have made you much stronger on the way up.

Dad

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Today is Father’s Day!  Father’s Day was started in the the early 20th century by Sonora Smart Dodd.  Dodd was raised (along with five other siblings) by a single father after her mother died in childbirth.  She advocated for a paternal alternative to Mother’s Day to recognize fathers and the special role they play in raising children.

The truth is, mother and father relationships aren’t what Leave It to Beaver might have had you believe.  Some mothers do the lion share of the work in child-raising.  Some fathers (like Dodd’s) do.  Sometimes it is equal.  Sometimes it is not.

I really appreciated this thought from one of my girl crush’s June Diane Raphael which she shared on Instagram last Mother’s Day,”special love to those of us who have lost our moms, have a difficult relationship w our moms, have lost children, or are struggling to become mothers.”

It isn’t always as simple as a Hallmark card.

My dad and I weren’t always close when I was growing up.  He lived four hours away and I only saw him once a month.  Extended time over the summer.  Naturally, since we lived so far apart, a lot of our time together was spent in a car.  In fact, my favorite memories of my dad from when I was a kid were those long hours in the car.  I always snagged the front seat (brothers go in the back) so my dad and I would spend endless hours catching up with each other and cracking bad jokes.  There was nothing remarkable about any of those hours or conversations, but the special was in the ordinary.

Here’s me and my dad when I was a kid, we probably had had one of those long conversations during a car ride recently.  Plus, it was the 80s so you could sit a kid this little in the front seat:

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Now, that I’ve grown up we both have to navigate a new relationship.  A few years ago, I went through a particularly rough time and my dad was there for me.  Even more remarkable, we weren’t just a parent/child relationship any more.  We weren’t even a parent/adult child relationship.  My dad became my friend.

Now I’m so grateful for the special relationship that we have.  We still have the same dry, sarcastic sense of humor which can (accidentally) offend others.  We both know what it feels like to have to apologize because you offended someone with your sense of humor.  We both love to sing along with the radio in the car.  We both know what it feels like to lose sleep because of anxious thoughts and worries.  We both love social interactions and parties but need mental energy to prepare and alone time to recover from them.  We love talking about ideas and family and what makes people tick.  I’m really glad my dad is my friend.

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He doesn’t even know this, but seven years ago, when my paternal grandmother died we were getting dressed for the funeral and my stepmother said we had to be sure to take handkerchiefs with us in case we started crying.  I’ve never owned or used a handkerchief before in my life, but ok.  She gave me one of my dad’s that was embroidered with a letter “S” which is the first letter of his first name.

I didn’t cry that day or use the handkerchief, but I kept it.  I’ve carried it with me everywhere I’ve gone for the past seven years.  It is one of my valued possessions and I know I will continue to carry it with me for the rest of my life.    It feels like I am taking a small part of my dad with me everywhere that I go.  On particularly hard days, I sleep with it under my pillow.

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I know it’s just a handkerchief, but the symbolism is something much deeper than that.  I will carry the lessons I have learned from my dad and the love he has shown me everywhere I go.  I hope you have had those blessings from a father the way that I have, but if you are one of those with difficult or strained relationships or someone with a father that has passed on, you have my compassion and just remember that lessons and love will come from many people and many relationships over the years as long as you are willing to accept them.

If you need to, I’ll even let you borrow my handkerchief.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Yoga in the Dog Puke

Since I’ve been staying with my friend Katie (first time we have lived together since college in 2002-2003), we’ve gotten into a really good routine of self-care and being productive.  One thing we schedule into every day is exercise which is often yoga since we both love it.

Unfortunately, Katie’s adorable dogs decided to throw up all over the carpet in the room where we do yoga.

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What do you do in this situation?  You’ve created a space for self-care and relaxation and someone went and puked all of it.  What a fabulous metaphor for life!  You can spend the rest of your life planning on how you will take the best care of yourself or making plans and inevitably someone will come along and vomit all over your plans.

So what do you do?

You do what Katie and I did.  You clean and sanitize then roll out your yoga mat and get your zen on.

Don’t get distracted by the puke coming your way, clean it up, and get on with the business of caring for yourself and being your best self.  Namaste.

 

 

 

God Laughs

When I started this blog, it was supposed to be about my adventure of quitting my job, driving to California alone, and starting a new life and finding new opportunities out there.  After six weeks of this next chapter in my life, I’ve been reminded of something:

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I love to make plans.  I love planners and calendars and schedules and organization.  I thought I had a plan.  I thought I knew the future.  All the while, God was having a good ol’ chuckle!  California was not a good fit and it was a negative experience.  I don’t want to harp on the negativity, but reflect and look forward to the positive.  I will share what I learned most from the experience:  This whole idea and “plan” came after a year of personal growth and development.  A path of learning to deeply and completely love and accept myself just as I am.  What I didn’t fully realize until now is that when you learn to love yourself and treat yourself well, you become a lot less tolerant of people who don’t.    Change can be a painful process, both when life seems to be getting worse and when it seems to be getting better. Change is hard.  Period.  Doesn’t matter how good or bad the change is.  Part of this is experience is learning when things don’t fit anymore.

Here is what I learned doesn’t fit: old clothes because of weight loss.  Old relationships because some people preferred you with low self-esteem.  Old jobs or careers because of shifting interests and priorities.  Don’t try to make the old fit again.  It doesn’t and it is good that it doesn’t.  Find your new clothes, new relationships, and new career.  Or in words of the great philosopher Patrick Verona, from 10 Things I Hate About You, “Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.”

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God might have been laughing at me, but He had an amazing plan in the future beyond what I could have imagined.

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Let’s back up to last October.  I had been working on my self-improvement journey for about five months at that point.  Out of the blue, my old college roommate Katie contacted me.  Katie and I hadn’t spoken in thirteen years.  We hadn’t seen each other, talked, Facebooked, anything for THIRTEEN YEARS.  We started talking again.  We caught up on each other’s lives.  Over the next few months, our relationship grew from texting to phone calls and in March, I drove down to Charlotte to visit her and meet her husband.  They were contemplating a move to San Antonio, TX because Katie is pregnant and were wanting to settle into a community, closer to family, as they begin to raise their family.  Katie and I had some late night, deep conversations about many topics, but one of which was my contemplation about moving to California.

Fast forward to May and I’m in the midst of moving to California and Katie is planning her family’s move to San Antonio.  I was on the phone with Katie a lot while I was in California because it wasn’t feeling right and I was so confused about how my plans were not working out.  When it was finally enough and I left California, I had no idea what my next steps were going to be.  I figured I would go home to Virginia but as I was driving through New Mexico, my phone rang.  Here is how the conversation basically went down:

Laura: “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know California wasn’t it.”

Katie: “So where are you right now?”

Laura: “I’m in New Mexico.”

Katie: “I’m getting into San Antonio tomorrow, we can get into our new house at noon.  Unpacking is going to be so stressful because Evan (her husband) has to go back to Georgia to finish up his job for three weeks.  It’s going to be really lonely in that house while he’s gone.”

*my brain starts to spark*

Katie: “You know, New Mexico isn’t that far from Texas.  How far are you from San Antonio?”

Laura: “About eight hours.”

Katie: “Why don’t you just move to Texas?”

Twelve hours and lots of phone calls and conversations later, we had a new plan.  Or maybe God had a plan all along.

I could be a blessing to Katie by staying with her and keeping her company for three weeks so she isn’t pregnant and alone in a new city trying to unpack an entire house.  Katie could be a blessing to me by letting me stay with her and introducing me to the community and family she already knows in San Antonio.

Just like that, my life had changed again.

Now, here I am, living in Texas.  The time I have spent with Katie has been the most uplifting, encouraging, and happy experience I have had in a long time.  We have so many plans, including growing our business (if you want to drop body fat and optimize your life, call us!). I’m job searching and apartment hunting as I contemplate if I’ll stay in San Antonio or maybe go to Austin.

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It feels good to know that I can be helpful to her in keeping her company and helping her unpack and set up her house.

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We’ve also had an amazing time connecting with Katie’s friends and family in the area.

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I also get to hang out with Maia and Finn.

The truth is, I don’t know where the future is going to take me.  All I know is that it is going to be amazing because this was a path laid out for me by a higher power and it is definitely in service of what this whole blog is about: being my best self.  I’m going to drop the ego that clung to an idea of a future in California and just ride the waves I’ve been given.  For me, for now, that is Texas.  For the first time in a long time, I’m surrounded by people that love me, that respect me, that treat me well.  Most importantly, I love and respect myself.

And you know what?  It is way more fun…to be surprised.

 

 

The Hard is What Makes It Great

 

It has been almost a month since I moved to California and I think the fairy-tale elements have started to wear thin.  The reality of starting over in a completely new place with no support system has really started to sink in for me.  There have been some major challenges for me lately and struggles to keep my spirits high and not regress into a negative thought patterns.

I’ll be honest.  There have been some really bad days.  But, I call this blog 100% potential because I not only want to live my own 100% potential, but I hope I can help in some way for other people to want to reach for theirs.  Growth isn’t always a pretty process.  There are hard, ugly, messy days along the way to 100% potential.  Steps forward and steps back.

There’s a few things I remind myself along the way.

First, there’s always a hard part before it gets good again.  If it wasn’t hard then everyone would do it and everyone won’t do it because some people won’t change.  Some people are content to stay the same, some are afraid of changing, and some aren’t willing to fail. I’m none of those kinds of people, so I persist.  I like this quote from A League of Their Own, “Of course, it’s hard.  It’s supposed to be hard.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Hard is what makes it great.”

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To get through the hard days, I’ve developed some strategies.

  1. Phone a friend.  My friend Katie spent two and a half hours on the phone with me during a bad day last week.
  2. Journal.  Pen.  Paper.  No computer.  Something about writing down your thoughts, slowing them down, helps tremendously.  Think of it like throwing up when you are sick.  Sometimes you just gotta get it out.
  3. Exercise.  Shoes on.  Walk.
  4. Watch a comforting movie.  For me, this is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
  5. Meditation.  HayHouse Meditations Podcast has been great for getting me through some less-than-optimal days.
  6. Read.  I’ve been reading 1-2 books a week which was a very specific goal I set up myself.  Holding myself accountable to that is a good way to keep my mind busy when it wants to wallow or worry.
  7. Remember why you started.  Picture who you were a year ago.  Picture what you look like if you are living up to 100% of your potential.  Which one do you want to be?

Some things I have intentionally NOT done to cheer myself up:

  1. Eat.  In the past I would have drowned my sorrows in ice cream or chocolate chip cookies.  It might feel good in the moment, but that temporary fix makes for a long term problem and it still doesn’t solve whatever you were upset about in the first place.  Food is fuel, not comfort.
  2. Shopping.  See above.  The burst of serotonin from purchasing a new outfit might feel good for an hour, but it doesn’t last and eventually you end up with no money and the same problems. 

I decided to write about this because I would hate to portray that my move to California is nothing short of perfection.  I feel like too often people try to portray their lives as perfect because they are afraid to show the scars.  The truth is I love California and I’m excited to make it my home.  The other side of the truth is that is REALLY hard to start over somewhere by yourself even when your intuition is telling you it is the right choice. Walking by faith alone, at least for me, is often filled with doubt, uncertainty, and insecurity.  But I don’t use these as an excuse to turn back.

I will persevere.

I will strive every day for 100% potential.

And the hard will be what makes it great.